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Bus carrying unaccompanied migrant girls arrives at Houston shelter

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The first bus carrying unaccompanied migrant girls arrived at a Houston shelter Friday evening, amid a surge of children entering the country and growing concern for their well-being.

The shelter, run by the National Association of Christian Churches, has a capacity for 500 beds.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia toured the facility on Friday and tweeted Houston “has always been a welcoming region,” promising to monitor the shelter and “do whatever it takes to ensure that children are protected, treated with dignity and respect.”

Garcia said the facility will have beds, medical facilities and equipment to properly house and process the children, per local ABC station KTRK.

The Biden administration has differed from former President Donald Trump’s in that it stopped using a public health policy called “Title 42” to turn away unaccompanied minors at the border. Instead, unaccompanied minors are being taken to their own facilities, tested for COVID-19, and connected to family or sponsors in the country.

The arrival of the girls in Houston comes amid rising concerns for the well-being of young children crossing into the U.S.

Last week, startling video emerged showing smugglers dropping two children, a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old girl from Ecuador, over a 14-foot border fence on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

© Dario Lopez-mills/AP, FILE Minors are housed inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021.

 

The influx of migrants and Biden’s policy to allow unaccompanied minors to stay has led to overcrowding at border facilities as well as concern over COVID-19 infections among the newcomers due to cramped conditions.

On Friday Texas Department of Health and Human Services told ABC News that from March 1 to March 30, there has been a total of 647 COVID-19 cases in 40 out of 50 Texas HHSC Office of Refugee Resettlement operations. These are self-reported positive COVID-19 cases in migrant children in care.

As of an April 2 the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services report there are a total of 19,236 children in Customs and Border Patrol custody and HHS care, officials told ABC News.

There are nine migrant housing facilities located in Texas, according to KTRK. They are located in Carrizo Springs, Dallas, Houston, Midland, Pecos and San Antonio and Fort Bliss, which is the largest and holds 5,000 beds.

The United States has been grappling with a surge in migrants arriving at its southern border in recent months.

The number of children and families attempting to cross the border increased by more than 100% between January and February. Meanwhile, the amount of children trying to cross the border alone jumped by 61% to over 9,400, the highest monthly total since the spring of 2019, according to statistics released last month by CBP.

Culled from the ABC News

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Houston

Historic Firefighter pay settlement and new contract win city council approval

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Houston City Council has approved a historic pay settlement and a new five-year contract for the 4,000 dedicated men and women of the Houston Fire Department. The vote marks a long-awaited victory for Houston firefighters, ending the disrespect and legal challenges and beginning the process of returning the HFD to a world-class department with adequate staffing and equipment.

“This is a historic day! I urge Houston firefighters and their families to relish this well-deserved victory. For eight long years, you have persevered through immense challenges while continuing to protect and serve our community,” said Patrick M. ‘Marty’ Lancton, President of the HPFFA. “Today’s vote by City Council is not just a resolution of past grievances; it’s recognition of our sacrifices and a commitment to providing the resources needed to continue serving Houston with dedication and pride.”

Houston City Council stalls vote on Fire Department contract – Houston  Public Media

The settlement includes provisions for back pay owed to firefighters, addressing a contentious issue that has strained labor relations for nearly a decade. The new five-year collective bargaining agreement provides pay hikes, significant improvements in working conditions, enhanced benefits, a renewed focus on recruitment and retention, and mental health support — a crucial component given firefighting’s stressful and demanding nature. The landmark deal underscores the core tenets of what it means to be a Houston firefighter: delivering excellent service, being good stewards of city resources, and giving back to the community.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mayor Whitmire for his steadfast commitment to bringing this ordeal to a close,” said Lancton. “He made a promise, and he has fulfilled it. His support and public recognition of Houston firefighters and the job they do are bolstering morale and helping to mend years of distrust. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration as we strive to enhance firefighting and emergency services for Houstonians.”

Firefighters will receive their back pay in July. The new five-year contract is effective with the start of the city’s new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

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Houston

Council Member Abbie Kamin Honored by Greater Houston LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce

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Greater Houston LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce is honoring City of Houston Council Member Abbie Kamin with the Chamber Champion Award at the fourth annual Pride In Business Celebration & Awards Luncheon, which recognizes the contributions made by Chamber members, Impact Partners, and other key stakeholders in building a more diverse and inclusive business community. The awards spotlight deserving companies and individuals and showcase their impactful work to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Council Member Abbie Kamin received the Chamber Champion Award, a designation earned by a strong advocate for the Chamber committed to advancing prosperity for our LGBTQ+ community.  “I’ve had the privilege to work alongside the Chamber and see firsthand the incredible partnerships they foster for our LGBTQIA+ community and businesses. I am extremely moved by this award and what it represents.” said Council Member Kamin. “Business is the backbone of our thriving city and can make a difference when it comes to fighting back against the unacceptable discrimination and bigotry our LGBTQIA+ community is facing. I will always stand with our LGBTQIA+ businesses and families, and thank the Chamber for this prestigious honor.”

“Council Member Kamin has been a longtime advocate and champion for the LGBTQ+ community. She is a partner with the Chamber on the Show Your Pride campaign and supported the Chamber’s efforts to make Houston the first city in Texas to recognize LGBTQ+ owned businesses in City of Houston contracting,” said Tammi Wallace, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Greater Houston LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce.  “In 2022, she created the Families with Pride festival to celebrate love, inclusivity, and all families, and she was recognized as the Ally Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade in 2021. It’s for these reasons and more that the Chamber is proud to recognize her as an outstanding champion and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.”

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Community

Council Member Thomas Hosts Swim & Water Safety Seminar

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As temperatures soar into the high 90s, Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas is bringing her “Summer of Safety” initiative to the pool. Pools offer a refreshing escape from the heat, but they also come with inherent risks. According to the latest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the CDC report, there is an annual average of 389 pool or spa-related fatal drownings and 6,300 nonfatal drowning injuries among children under 15. Alarmingly, 73% of these fatalities and 80% of the injuries involve children under five. Tragically, as recent as June 1st of this year, a 5-year-old girl drowned in a pool in the Westchase area of District F.
“This speaks to the overall importance of why we need to make sure that our families, young people, and adults have the tools they need in order to swim,” said Council Member Thomas.
Launched in 2023, the “Summer of Safety” initiative is returning with enhanced programming. This year’s events continue to focus on the health and safety of young residents in District F, aiming to improve the quality of life for all constituents in the district and across Houston.
The “Summer of Safety” initiative kicks off with a Swim and Water Safety Seminar at the Alief Neighborhood Center Pool. Hosted by Council Member Thomas in collaboration with Houston Waves, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Coach CPR LLC., the seminar will feature a beginner’s swimming class and essential pool safety guidelines.
This event is a prime opportunity to update, educate, and empower the community with the knowledge that swimming skills and pool safety are crucial at any age.
Event Details:
WHAT: Swim & Water Safety Seminar
WHEN: Saturday, June 15 and Saturday, July 13, 2024, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Alief Neighborhood Center Pool, 11903 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77072
WHO: Tiffany D. Thomas, Houston City Council Member for District F, and a staunch advocate for quality of life and public safety; Moms, Dads, kids, and adults enjoying the first summer in the new Alief Neighborhood Pool.
WHY: There are approximately 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings each year, which averages to about 11 drowning deaths per day. Additionally, there are around 8,000 nonfatal drownings annually, resulting in an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day.

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